BLR 0.00% 0.2¢ black range minerals limited

hartleys long awaited research paper

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    BLACK RANGE MINERALS LIMITED - SPECULATIVE BUY

    Dated July 16, 2007

    URANIUM AND BASE METAL EXPLORER TO TAKE NEXT STEP

    Black Range Minerals Limited (“BLR”, “Black Range”, “Company”) is positioning itself as an advanced uranium and base metals explorer with a number of projects that have the potential to go into production within the next few years. Following on from current or soon to commence drill programs, the Company’s four USA based projects should have JORC compliant resources by the end of CY2007. Three of the projects are focussed on uranium and are in close proximity to uranium mills.

    The other project, the Ferris-Haggerty Copper Mine, is an historic high grade copper-gold mine.

    The mine has existing development that should enable relatively fast access to the ore, enabling lower development costs than would normally be the case.

    With an active exploration program that has the potential to lead to a substantial increase in uranium Resources, as well as the addition of a copper-gold Resource, we see good potential for a re-rating of the Company during the next six months. We rate Black Range Minerals Limited as a Speculative Buy.

    Investment Highlights
    • Taylor Ranch Uranium Project – The Taylor Ranch project is located in Colorado, USA, and is 30km from Cotter Corporation’s Canon City uranium mill. The project has had significant historical drilling which identified uranium mineralisation over 5km of strike.

    Black Range has an exploration target of 15-20mlb U3O8 and is currently drilling with the aim of confirming the historic exploration, as well as looking to extend the mineralisation along strike and at depth. Initial results from confirmatory drilling include:
    • 0.6m @ 1.14% U3O8 from 26m, and
    • 2.3m @ 0.22% U3O8 from 37.6m.

    Following the drilling, the Company plans to calculate an initial JORC-compliant resource, planned for completion by late Q3 CY2007, to be followed by the commencement of a pre-feasibility study within the next 12 months.

    • Eagle and Cyclone Rim Uranium Projects – Both the Eagle and Cyclone Rim Projects are located in Wyoming, USA, and are 25km from Rio Tinto Limited’s Sweetwater uranium mill. Eagle has a JORC-compliant resource of 9.25Mt @ 0.023% U3O8 for 4.7mlb U3O8. At Cyclone Rim, Black Range believes the project contains at least 3mlb U3O8 based on historical drilling. An infill and extensional drilling program is planned for Q3 CY2007, to enable the calculation of an initial JORC compliant resource.

    • Ferris-Haggerty Copper Mine – Ferris-Haggerty is in Wyoming, USA. The deposit has historically been mined to 200m depth. The orebody averages 8-10m width with grades of 6-8% Cu and 3-4g/t gold, with mineralisation open at depth. Black Range believes there is over 1Mt of ore remaining at 5-6% copper and 3-4g/t gold for ~55kt of contained copper. BLR is due to commence drilling the deposit in the near future, which should lead to an initial JORC compliant resource, possibly to be followed by a pre-feasibility study.

    BACKGROUND
    Black Range Minerals is an ASX-listed diversified exploration company with projects in the USA and Australia. The Company is currently advancing exploration at its Taylor Ranch, Cyclone Rim and Eagle Uranium Projects, as well as on the Ferris-Haggerty and Koonenberry base metal
    projects.

    URANIUM PROJECTS
    Black Range has acquired a number of advanced uranium projects located in Colorado and Wyoming, USA. The Company acquired the projects with a view to their exploration upside as well as being in locations amenable to uranium exploration and development. The projects are also situated within close proximity to two of the four licensed uranium mills within the USA.
    Taylor Ranch Project

    The Taylor Ranch project is located approximately 120km south west of Denver in Colorado, USA. Black Range secured a 100% interest in 4,300 acres at the Taylor Ranch project in November 2006, and has since expanded the landholding to ~6,400 acres. The Company is seeking to add to this landholding by acquiring surrounding tenements. The project lies to the north of the Hansen uranium deposit (~30mlb U3O8 at ~0.08%), and is approximately 30km NW of the Canon City mill currently operated by Cotter Corporation. The mill has a capacity of ~1,200t per day and has the capability to process a range of uranium ore types as it can be operated using either an alkaline leach or acid leach circuit. The mill is also set up so as to allow batch milling campaigns. These characteristics, as well as its proximity to Taylor Ranch, make it the most likely mill to treat any Taylor Ranch ore.

    Taylor Ranch has had a significant amount of historical exploration during the 1960’s and 70’s with approximately 570 drill holes completed for ~100,000m. Most of this historical drilling involved wide spaced reconnaissance drilling. The drilling identified extensive sandstone hosted roll-front style uranium mineralization over more than 5km of strike. The mineralisation is contained within three horizons, all within 220m of the surface. Of this historic drilling, Black Range has obtained data for 274 holes to date, representing ~57,000m. Within the mineralised corridor, the drilling returned some very high grades, particularly at the Northwest Taylor Deposit, including 0.3m @ 3.77% U3O8 and 0.6m @ 0.95% U3O8. Black Range has an exploration target for Taylor Ranch of 15-20mlbs U3O8 based on interpretations of grade-thickness maps (using a 0.25 grade x thickness cut-off) from the historical drilling results.

    Following on from the historical drilling, the Company commenced a 15,000m drill program in April 2007. The initial focus of the program was on confirmatory drilling to replicate historical drill intersections. This drilling consistently intersected uranium mineralisation where anticipated, with the tenor and thickness comparing favourably to the historic data. Better results received to date include:
    • 0.6m @ 1.14% U3O8 from 26m, and
    • 2.3m @ 0.22% U3O8 from 37.6m

    With the completion of the verification drilling, the program is now focussing on infill and extensional drilling.

    Due to the favourable confirmatory drilling results, the Company plans to integrate the recent drillholes with the historic holes to calculate an initial JORC-compliant resource, planned for completion by late Q3 CY2007. The Company expects this initial resource to be upgraded with ongoing drilling over the next 12 months, and plans to commence a pre-feasibility study (“PFS”) into the development of the deposit during this time.

    EAGLE URANIUM PROJECT
    The Eagle Uranium Project is located in the Red Desert area of Sweetwater County, Wyoming, and covers 2,260 acres. Both the Eagle and Cyclone Rim projects are subject to an earn-in joint venture (“JV”) between Black Range and Uranerz Energy Corporation. The JV involves Black Range earning a 50% interest by managing exploration and funding the first US$750k on both projects, with a minimum spend of US$100k per year.

    The projects are approximately 25km from the Sweetwater uranium mill, which is owned by Rio Tinto Limited (“RIO”). Though the Sweetwater Mill was shut down in 1983, RIO is currently evaluating a number of nearby uranium resources and investigating possibilities of re-opening the mill.
    Previous drilling at Eagle indicated that the project contains sandstone hosted roll-front uranium mineralisation within a 110m thick horizon. The thickness of the sandstone units ranges from 6 to 30m and the mineralisation varies from 20 to 200m below surface. Black Range believes that the mineralisation at Eagle is amenable to both in-situ leaching as well as open-pit mining.

    In addition to the previous drilling, the Company completed another 32 holes in late 2006. Incorporating this data with the historic data, Black Range calculated an initial JORC-compliant resource of 9.25Mt @ 0.023% U3O8 for 4.7mlb U3O8. The resource was calculated using a 200ppm lower cut-off and significantly exceeded Black Range’s exploration target of 2mlb U3O8. The Company believes there is scope to increase the Resource further and is planning a follow-up drilling program.

    CYCLONE RIM URANIUM PROJECT
    The Cyclone Rim project comprises 1,720 acres and is located approximately 8km northwest of Eagle. The project has historic exploration of 115 drill holes from the 1960’s and 1970’s. Based on this drilling, Black Range believes the project contains at least 3mlb U3O8, with considerable potential to extend this mineralisation both along strike and at depth. The deposit is similar to Eagle in that it is a sandstone-hosted roll-front style, as well as being relatively shallow and amenable to both in-situ leaching and open-pit mining. An infill and extensional drilling program is planned for Q3 CY2007 to enable the calculation of an initial JORC compliant resource.

    BASE METALS PROJECTS
    Black Range has two base metal projects, the Ferris-Haggerty Copper-Gold project in southern Wyoming, USA, and the Koonenberry Base Metal project in New South Wales. Both projects are at mid to advanced exploration stages. Ferris-Haggerty has been historically mined but has the potential for significant amounts of remnant ore.

    Black Range has already delineated a JORC compliant Resource at Koonenberry and is looking to build on this.

    FERRIS-HAGGERTY COPPER MINE
    The Ferris-Haggerty Copper Mine is located approximately 25km north of the Colorado-Wyoming state boundary and 240km northwest of Denver. Black Range has purchased an option to earn up to a 90% interest in the Ferris-Haggerty mine. The agreement involves BLR paying US$75k to purchase a 12-month exclusive option over the deposit. This gives the Company the exclusive right to earn a 51% interest in the deposit by paying US$1m over 12 months from November 2007, as well as completing a feasibility study on the deposit by November 2010. Black Range will then have the exclusive right to earn an additional 39% interest by taking the deposit into production. The deposit was discovered in 1897, and mined from 1898 to 1908. Two shafts and a number of adits were used to develop the mine down to a depth of 200 metres with only limited stoping. The ore was transported by tramway to a purpose-built mill and smelter 25km away.

    The main orebody averages 8-10m width, but is up to 20m in places. Grades are between 6% and 8% copper, with 3g/t to 4g/t gold. Mineralisation is open at depth and BLR believes numerous additional lodes remain untested. Weathering has depleted the copper in the shallowest portions of the orebody, redepositing it in the upper zones, substantially enriching the ore. Consequently, historic mining focused on these upper portions of the orebody where grades averaged over 20% copper. Estimated production from the mine was ~10,000t of copper. Production was halted in 1908 when a fire destroyed the smelter. The collapse in the copper price at the time made reopening the mine unviable. No mining or modern exploration has been undertaken at the project since the mines closure.

    Black Range estimates that there is over 1Mt of ore remaining within the developed but unmined portions of the deposit at 5-6% copper and 3-4g/t gold for ~55kt of contained copper. The Company considers the mine to have significant exploration potential below the historic development and along strike, as well as in numerous other parallel lodes.

    BLR had previously planned to commence an exploration and infill drilling program from the underground workings earlier on in CY2007. However, the Company discovered significant remedial work was required to rehabilitate the entrance to the adit before a drilling programme could safely commence. Consequently, BLR is now planning to test the deposit from surface using a diamond drill rig, with the program due to commence in early Q3 CY2007. The drilling aims to assess the presence of the unmined ore, as well as testing for potential extensions to the deposit. On completion of the program, the Company plans to calculate an initial JORC-compliant resource, which will be incorporated into a pre-feasibility study into the mining of Ferris-Haggerty, as well as determining ore processing options. Due to the mine having current mining permits and with the existing underground infrastructure, Black Range believes mining could restart in a relatively short timeframe.

    KOONENBERRY BASE METALS PROJECT, NSW
    The Koonenberry project is located approximately 100km east of Broken Hill in NSW and consists of two exploration licences covering approximately 600km2. The project is 100% owned by Black Range and covers the southern third of the prospective Koonenberry Belt.
    The project contains the historic Grasmere copper deposit as well as the newly discovered Peveril copper deposit, located some 2km to the northwest of Grasmere. Both deposits are of a volcanic-hosted massive sulphide (“VHMS”) style, and contain relatively thick, high-grade shoots. Previous diamond core drilling by RIO at Grasmere to a depth of 200m initially outlined an inferred resource of 584kt @ 2.48% Cu, 0.94% Zn, 5.24g/t Ag, 0.08g/t Au for 14.5kt Cu, 5.5kt Zn and 100koz Ag. Metallurgical test work by RIO suggested good recovery of both copper and zinc with smelter credits of silver, gold and cobalt.

    Black Range commenced exploration at Koonenberry in October 2005, and has since completed 72 drill holes, for ~11,000m. Mineralisation was encountered over the entire 4km of strike that was tested. The mineralization remains open along strike and at depth. Better intersections from the drilling of Grasmere and Peveril include:
    • 8.50m @ 2.95% Cu from 58m,
    • 9.75m @ 2.24% Cu from 120m and
    • 11m @ 2.02% Cu from 52m.

    Following the drilling program, in July 2006, Black Range calculated a JORC compliant Resource for Koonenberry of 5.8Mt at 1.03% Cu, 0.35% Zn, 2.30g/t Ag and 0.05g/t Au for ~60kt Cu. Black Range believes that Grasmere and Peveril deposits are part of a large mineralised massive sulphide system. The Company has drill tested only 4km of the 50km of host stratigraphic horizon within BLR’s exploration licenses. The Company has recently completed an airborne electromagnetic (AEM) survey at Koonenberry which was designed to assess for similar electromagnetic response to those at both Grasmere and Peveril. Depending on the results of the survey of the program, BLR plans to drill test the most favourable targets.

    FINANCIAL ANALYSIS
    As at 30 June 2007, Black Range had $18.3m in cash following a $16.8m capital raising in mid-May. The raising involved issuing 70m shares at $0.24 per share to fund exploration, primarily at its USA projects. The Company has 602.0m shares on issue, 101.5m listed options exercisable at 4.5cps expiring on 28 February 2011, and a 6.3m unlisted options at various exercise prices and expiry dates. Black Range has no debt.

    SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
    Black Range is positioning itself as a diversified resource company with advanced projects in both uranium and base metals. The Company is benefiting from historic work completed on all of its USA projects that was halted due to low prices.

    The Company has an active year ahead with work programs planned across all projects including drilling followed by the calculation of JORC compliant resources on Taylor Ranch, Eagle and Ferris Haggerty. BLR also plans to commence prefeasibility studies on both Taylor Ranch and Ferris-Haggerty.

    Although the uranium projects are small to medium sized, they have the potential to generate good cashflow due to the shallow depth of mineralisation as well as the likely low infrastructure requirements. The projects are all located in uranium friendly areas with a history of mining as well as nearby treatment facilities. However, Eagle and Cyclone Rim will be dependant on the re-opening of the Sweetwater mill, and Taylor Ranch will need a treatment or offtake agreement for Canon City.

    Likewise at Ferris Haggerty, existing workings, as well as the high grade of the deposit, should allow for relatively quick cashflow, though the project will require the construction of a treatment plant. At Koonenberry, the Company is likely to plan a drill program testing targets identified from the AEM program. However, we believe that Koonenberry is the lowest ranking project in Black Range’s stable and the Company may seek to either JV out or divest the project so as to be able to focus on the more advanced projects that have the potential to go into production within a relatively short time frame.

    We see a number of share price catalysts for Black Range, including good drilling results, the release of the JORC compliant resources, as well as the commencement of the Taylor Ranch or Ferris-Haggerty prefeasibility studies. By the end of CY2007 we see BLR having JORC compliant resources of 40 – 50kt of contained copper as well as total uranium resources of 20 – 30mlb U3O8. We believe that this resource inventory will lead to a rerating of the Company, and recommend Black Range Minerals Limited as a Speculative Buy.

 
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